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George Orwell Was Right — Security Cameras Get an Upgrade 499

Jamie stopped to mention that Bloomberg is reporting on a recent addition of speakers to public security cameras in Middlesbrough, England. From the article: "`People are shocked when they hear the cameras talk, but when they see everyone else looking at them, they feel a twinge of conscience and comply,' said Mike Clark, a spokesman for Middlesbrough Council who recounted the incident. The city has placed speakers in its cameras, allowing operators to chastise miscreants who drop coffee cups, ride bicycles too fast or fight outside bars."
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George Orwell Was Right — Security Cameras Get an Upgrade

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  • V says... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Spock the Baptist ( 455355 ) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @01:37AM (#17363716) Journal
    "People sould not fear their governments, governments should fear their people."
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by creimer ( 824291 )
      Maybe that's why the video cameras are going up?
    • It's funny you post this, because as soon as I read this article post I immediately thought of that movie and saying. There are many levels to this. Big brother always watching. At what point does society get to the point where you don't even want to leave your house unless it's a secret tunnel throgh the sewers?
    • Re:V says... (Score:5, Informative)

      by porkmusket ( 954006 ) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @03:23AM (#17364328) Homepage
      Good movie, but credit where it's due, they're paraphrasing Thomas Jefferson. "When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty. "
      • It's a dumb statement either way.

        Liberty doesn't arise when the government fears its people. The vast majority of genocidal incidents, from Stalin to Mao to Hitler and so on, arose in an atmosphere where the average citizen was fanatically in support of the dictator, but the dictator had a paranoid and irrational fear of the people.

        A tyranny where the people are conscious enough of their oppression to feel *fear* of the government is one that will very soon collapse, likely into liberty. One where the fear
  • because god forbid we might think for ourselfs, or act up.
  • by creimer ( 824291 ) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @01:37AM (#17363720) Homepage
    Will people who flip the bird at the cameras and keep walking be regarded as individuals or traitors to the state?
    • by monoqlith ( 610041 ) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @01:45AM (#17363774)
      I'm pretty sure the biggest question has already been asked, namely: "WTF is up with Britain becoming a surveillance state?"

      Once the barriers to surveillance are being eroded, everything else - while not besides the point - pretty much follows by matter of course.

      People act differently when they're being watched. How can it be a free state if they are being watched, then?

      • by arivanov ( 12034 ) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @04:26AM (#17364614) Homepage
        I can tell you WTF. Britain is marching full steam ahead into a big recession and the only thing that has prevented it from doing it this year was influx of cheap Polish labour. Unfortunately this only delays the inevitable as it does not change the underlying overheated housing market, phenomenal internal debt and other major economical metrics.

        Blair's government knows this. It also knows what happened in the recession after the previous housing market crash under their predecessors. It is scared shitless of countrywide poll tax and "Camden" style riots organised via the Internet and mobile networks the way the fuel protesters organised themselves 6 years ago. So it is putting as much effort as it can into a massive surveilance effort to be able to squash these before they go out of control.

        Genuinely stupid move which is bound to fail. Until the underlying economical conditions are fixed (even by shock therapy if necessary) the recession and the riots are bound to happen. Cameras can help in a policeable situation. They are useless when the whole population stops giving a flying fuck.
    • My guess (Score:3, Interesting)

      Well, given the use of those neat little ASBOs the Brits are so fond of (which basically allow the courts to arbitrarily criminalize ANY "anti-social" behavior), it's safe to say that any flagrant display of disrespect can be grounds for imprisonment (though you'd have to do twice--once for the ASBO to be issued, and once again to be arrested as a violator of the ASBO.) It likely comes down to the whim of the camera operator as to whether or not this happens.

      I'd explain in detail why this is such an obs
      • Actually, I just realized you *could* be arrested after only one "anti-social" sign of disrespect. Apparently, the courts issued a pre-emptive ASBO for the entire town of Skegness, allowing the police to imprison anyone (for up to six months) whom they deemed disruptive even if they haven't actually broken any laws. (Explicitly included was the power to disperse any "crowd" consisting of two or more people.)

        I don't see what's stopping them from issuing a similar ASBO covering the entire camera networ
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        > Well, given the use of those neat little ASBOs the Brits are so fond of (which basically allow the courts to
        > arbitrarily criminalize ANY "anti-social" behavior), it's safe to say that any flagrant display of disrespect can
        > be grounds for imprisonment (though you'd have to do twice--once for the ASBO to be issued, and once again to be
        > arrested as a violator of the ASBO.) It likely comes down to the whim of the camera operator as to whether or not
        > this happens.

        Spot on.

        It is often not a te
        • Re:My guess (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Toby The Economist ( 811138 ) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @03:53AM (#17364480)
          > The problem is, those watchers are normal people - they're going to be stupid, irrational, selfish, bad-tempered,
          > uneducated, unreasonable, bigoted, sexist. They're going to be paid minimum wage for doing a really dull job. These
          > people are the people who are *setting and enforcing* the standards by which you will live.

          And the particular problem with this, to state it explicitly, is that if you give an average person power and they're not being monitored or checked for how behave, they abuse that power. People are basically shit. I've had enough problems with getting first line technical support staff to behave decently - imagine how it would be if those people were watching you and could get you in front of a court?

          (And pretty soon - another five years? = you couldn't just run away from the camera, because you'd have your mobile with you, and if you'd "committed a crime" then the law enforcement agencies would access the mobile provider's data to find out which mobile was where, and figure out who you are.)

  • next up (Score:4, Funny)

    by WindowsIsForArseWipe ( 990338 ) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @01:40AM (#17363748)
    Lasers added to cameras with speakers to deal with those who don't obey
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      "aw, fuck off ya pig"
      *pew pew*


      too many caps too many caps too many caps
  • Not a bad idea, what's the difference if it was another person instead? I'd figure most would flip off the camera anyway...not like that's a crime. Doubt they'll summon the police to fine you for dropping a cup on the floor though I have to admit I'd like to see the people who do get embarrassed for doing something b/c they know better.

    This 1984 comparison's much more useful for other more infuriating examples, like a national ID.
    • In America, hand gestures can be considered harassment. Flipping of the camera could be like harassing an officer of the state?
      • by cloak42 ( 620230 )
        Harrassment implies the ability to DO something. Sexual harrassment, for example, is partially defined as it is because it implies the ability to exert pressure due to a working environment (i.e. a male superior vs. a female subordinate).

        A hand gesture to a policeman does nothing except get the policeman upset. A hand gesture to a camera is even less likely to be called a crime, given that (at least here in the states), you have a right to confront your accuser and there is no accuser when a camera gives
        • But my point is, flipping the bird essentially means fuck you. And cursing someone out can be considered harassment, if not verbal assualt. Granted it'd probaly only be a disorderly conduct fine, but alas it's still againts the matter how dumb the law is.
          • But my point is, flipping the bird essentially means fuck you. And cursing someone out can be considered harassment

            I don't believe that's true. It's Freedom of Speech, in my opinion. What kind of world do we live in where flipping the bird or dropping the F-bomb is automatically disturbing the peace or harassment? I agree to a certain extent that it can in extreme situations, but not in this case.
            • It's different in how it's presented. Saying fuck out of anger is different than if I say fuck you asshole you fucked it up. Whipping the bird is directing it to someone.
          • Regarding the article from the UK. I don't know how it works there (US-ian here) but in the US a traffic summons doesn't mean you're guilty. If you read further you'd notice this probably looked worse for police that for the motorist who supposedly broke the "Public Order Act" (anyone have any info on this?). The school's headmaster slammed cops for failing to react quickly enough when a staff member was battered by hoodie thugs who gatecrashed an exam.

            As for the second link in AZ, US; you should read y
    • by tsa ( 15680 )
      I agree with you. It seems to me that the 'I' age that started in the 1980's has spawned a generation that hasn't learned to consider other people. They think the world revolves around them and they have the right to everything they want to have or do. We now see that people slowly return to a more social society, a 'we' age like we had in the 1970's and before. This whole camera thing is a phase we have to go through to get there. I guess the cameras will be taken down again in ten years or so, when they a
      • by daeg ( 828071 )
        As much as I hope the cameras do come down, do you really want to risk that even if it does teach a generation a lesson about respecting others? I have a feeling talking cameras will just make things worse. Having cameras won't deter crime, it will push it underground and make it harder yet to catch criminals that are actually worth catching. Personally, I'd rather my government cut down on gangs and violent crime than, say, littering or jaywalking.

        Once a government has been given a power, what motivation d
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by dangitman ( 862676 )

          Personally, I'd rather my government cut down on gangs and violent crime than, say, littering or jaywalking.

          I think the two are probably quite related. Littering shows a deep disrespect for the outside world, and litterers probably have tendencies to other antisocial crimes. Also, have you seen thugs and violent criminals out in public? They are constantly littering - perhaps the worst litterers I have ever seen.

          I think there's something to be said for the "broken windows-esque" idea that a society that does not permit littering and anti-social behaviour, will also not tolerate violence and other more extreme f

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by SuluSulu ( 1039126 )

      not like that's a crime
  • Next step (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @01:48AM (#17363794)
    The next step is to add a "non-lethal" weapon to these cameras, something to cause pain "when neccessary". Something like Active Denial System []. Yes, we need these. Just think about all the children this will save.
  • by RichPowers ( 998637 ) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @01:49AM (#17363796)
    Is it too late for Britain to reverse its course? People get used to cameras because they provide security. Then the authorities add speakers to provide more security. In 10 years, cameras will have face recognition systems. This happens so gradually that citizens become accustomed to Big Brother's constant presence and don't question the next move.

    50 years from now, I think historians will look at 9/11 (and the Madrid bombings, etc.) as the beginning of the end of privacy standards that literally took centuries to establish. We have to stop this now before it's too late.

    Orwell was a man ahead of his time...
    • by voice_of_all_reason ( 926702 ) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @02:03AM (#17363888)
      Evil Empires usually don't last that long once they're in full swing. The lust for power usually overrides common sense and more is taken from the people at an increasing rate until one of the following things happen:

      1) Other nations capitalize on the situation and invade (war)
      2) The citizens get fed up and revolt (civil war)
      3) The military gets fed up (now you're really fucked)
    • by troll -1 ( 956834 ) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @02:38AM (#17364098)
      Is it too late for Britain to reverse its course?

      Agreed. But consider this. I grew up in the UK (been living in the US for many years). If Al Qaeda is responsible for taking away American liberties, because the government uses terrorism as a blanket excuse to invade our privacy, then in the UK it's the yobs and hooligans who are to blame for the surveillance state.

      It might be difficult for Americans to understand but, whereas here in the US there's usually a reason/motive for crime (e.g. robbery), in the UK a lot of it is just plain senseless. British high streets have gotten so bad due to mindless binge drinkers and general idiots it seems to necessitate the need for constant monitoring. If the UK has become a nanny state, perhaps it's because a large portion of its citizenry are infants.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Fribulator ( 1001425 )
        " in the UK it's the yobs and hooligans who are to blame "

        I agree, but in the UK everyone aged 13-25 is seen as a hooligan. I'm 14 and in Britain (and law abiding in case you were wondering) and many people about 40+yo will cross the road to avoid me, just in case I decide to pull a knife on them. I could see cameras like these telling me (and people like me) to clear off just for walking around and seeming menacing.

        Also, to add to the growing list of stupid laws in Britan, in the town where I live you can
    • by dbIII ( 701233 )
      In 10 years, cameras will have face recognition systems.

      But it won't matter becuase it will be silicon snake oil distrusted by all other than inexperienced camera operators and idoits in politics. That combination however may create havoc and unlucky scapegoats in isolated incidents.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by SQL Error ( 16383 )
      Orwell was a man ahead of his time...
      No, he was merely observant. Only the technology is new.
  • by fm6 ( 162816 ) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @01:52AM (#17363814) Homepage Journal
    ...that the only thing anybody knows about 1984 is that it's about a government that spies on its people. If that was the only thing the book was about, it would have been forgotten long ago — there are hundreds of stories like that. This particular story is interesting because it goes insides the minds of the people who make a totalitarian society work. If people actually read 1984, they might not be so quick to refer to it. Because if they did read it, they'd probably see themselves in it — and not as a brave defender of liberty, but as one of the faceless minions of Big Brother.
    • I dunno, I kinda picked up on the "unperson someone and torture them" aspect as being particularly relevant.
    • by dbc ( 135354 ) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @02:20AM (#17363996)
      Only too true. Unless those cameras installed themselves, maintain themselves, and write their own software, a moderate of army of techies with zero for ethics has prostituted their talents to install such a system.

      Perhaps some are reading this post now. I ask: Why do you do it? I fail to see how any professional engineer could consider deployment of such wide-scale serveilence as an ethical and appropriate use of government power, outside of the four walls of a prison.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by TubeSteak ( 669689 )
        Why do you do it? I fail to see how any professional engineer could consider deployment of such wide-scale serveilence as an ethical and appropriate use of government power, outside of the four walls of a prison.
        A) Install it
        B) Lose job

        Which choice do you think has more short term reprecussions for Mr. Engineer?

          Most people aren't so principled that they would risk their financial security to stand up for their convictions.
  • The real question (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mulhollandj ( 807571 )
    We should not ask ourselves what can government do with all the power they are accumulating but what will they do. A nation that expects to be ignorant and free expects something that never was and never will be.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @01:54AM (#17363832)
    I think there is a great oppertunity for advertising here.
    If I can put billboard advertisments in areas where these cameras are pointed, I get a load of people constantly watching 24 hours a day.
    The space will be really cheap too, as I could put the ad's in places where pedestrians would not see them, but the camera operators will.

    Perhaps special placards could be attatched to the cameras, where I could affix full colour adverts for tasers, video recording systems and handcuffs.

    There is always an oppertunity for someone to make money, and I am that man!!!
  • I just started feeling nauseas and it's not from eating too many Christmas cookies.

    It would be one thing to use the speakers to alert others to danger, but this is just for behavoir modification.
  • by dbc ( 135354 ) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @02:05AM (#17363896)
    I'm only mildly surprised that the government of a western democracy would propose such a system -- but I'm shocked that the people of any western democracy would allow it -- TFA says the camera:person ratio has reached 1:16 -- why are people putting up with this? It's time to storm parliment with flaming pitchforks. The U.K. has become an out-of-control police state -- and it is the *left* that is pushing for more cameras....

    People of England, you have sold your souls.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by seriv ( 698799 )
      Well, I doubt that the addition of speakers, or for that matter much of the British camera system, are democratic actions per-say. In Chicago, Mayor Daily instituted a camera system without any public meetings or any vote. He just did it. Perhaps part of that is his style, but I imagine something similar happened in England. Cameras might get public opposition if it is a public decision, especially for so many cameras, but if the cameras just appear more and more, people will learn to accept them as a new p
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by serialdogma ( 883470 )
      and it is the *left* that is pushing for more cameras....

      The left in the UK is in steep decline in recent times. So I'm rather curious as to where you got that idea from.
  • The question is, to quote Milton Friedman, "how can we keep the government we create from becoming a Frankenstein that will destroy the very freedom we establish it to protect?"
  • I think this is a hoax, pure and simple... it's just too far out to be true. Anyone confirm or deny?
    • Uhhh, what makes it "far out" in any sense? It uses pretty low-tech, easily available technology, and does something that authorities would like to do. So, what's so unbelievable about it?
  • Pfft (Score:2, Insightful)

    by aerthling ( 796790 )
    Anyone who wastes doubleplusgood Victory coffee is probably a Eurasian spy anyway.
  • by edwardpickman ( 965122 ) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @02:25AM (#17364026)
    "Sir please close the raincoat and move along, you're scaring the pidgeons."
  • Dupe? (Score:2, Redundant)

    Isn't this a dupe [] of this?
  • by lymond01 ( 314120 ) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @02:52AM (#17364166)
    Anyone notice that when you click on a reply, when you get back to the main tree of posts, there's a checkmark noting you've looked at it.

    "You, with the keyboard! Yes, you! Go back and mod that post up!"
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Fëanáro ( 130986 )
      That's just a css thing. In additon of displaying links you have visited in a different color, it is set to display a different image in front of it.

      The source code of the page stays the same, your browser (depending on your settings) is taking care of tracing wich links you visited and changing the image accordingly, and the server never has to know about it.

      Althought, now that you mention it, it would be possible to track visited links this way. Just use a different image for each link , then the server w
  • we're not far behind. In my town, Downers Grove, there are now cameras at every major intersection. In Chicago, there are cameras in most high crime neighborhoods. Very few seem to care. I won't even mention the number of "private" cameras around any interesting corporate locations.

    Smile! You're on Candid Camera!!!
  • by jjh37997 ( 456473 ) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @03:04AM (#17364238) Homepage
    The only problem is that it does not go far enough. Put the feeds on the internet too, open up all the cameras, and install more in all government buildings (if you're a public servant the public should be able to monitor you while you're on the clock). If someone wants to track my movements with a camera I say go ahead.... but only if I get to know who's watching me and I have the ability to watch them back. An open and transparent society can make the world both safe and free. The only thing wrong with traditional surveillance is the imbalence of power between the watchers and the watched.
  • by Desmoden ( 221564 ) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @03:50AM (#17364460) Homepage

    Personal "diary" cameras that log everything we do, from our point of view. Everything is written to a bio-encoded storage device. The data on that device is considered to be part of ones person, and can NOT be taken or used against the owner under ANY circumstances unless it is surrendered by someone of sound mind.

    Now we all record everything. And it's up to us if OUR data is used against us or someone else. If no one will turn over their video, then you have no case.

    An added benefit of this model is it removes the known bias of witnesses. Now you have digital data.

PL/I -- "the fatal disease" -- belongs more to the problem set than to the solution set. -- Edsger W. Dijkstra, SIGPLAN Notices, Volume 17, Number 5